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Junior Stephen Rashford's Spring Break Mission Trip to Haiti

Haiti

Junior Stephen Rashford joined Father Michael and St. Anselm Youth Minister Courtney Rockamann on a mission trip to Haiti this spring break, along with a group of students from a parish in Knoxville, Tennessee, that also supports the community of Boucan Carre. He writes...

Haiti 2This spring break I did something I had never done before: go on a mission trip. I had wanted to go on a mission trip for a long time, and when Father Michael invited me to go this spring break I readily accepted. I was excited to leave the country for the first time, but I had no idea what to expect.

When our plane landed in Port-Au-Prince and we descended the stairs into the Haitian heat, It was beautiful. To the east loomed the mountains, so tall and black I first mistook them for rainclouds. We fit 18 people and all of our bags into two pickup trucks, and one SUV.  The two-hour ride through the mountains was one of the most powerful experiences of my young life. I saw poverty that I had never imagined possible — people living in small makeshift huts on the side of the road, children so malnourished they looked like walking skeletons. When we arrived at the parish rectory in Boucan Carre I was shocked at how nice the building itself was. It had electricity and a power generator for when the power went out (the power went out three of the days I was there). It had clean, running water and bathrooms.

On the first morning that I woke up in Haiti, the sounds around me were unlike anything I had ever heard before. Roosters crowed, dogs barked, goats shrieked, babies cried. It still felt surreal being so far removed from west county Saint Louis. After breakfast we went into the town square and played with the kids. There is a basketball court in the town square that had been badly run down. We brought nets and set them up and showed the kids how to play basketball as most of them had never played before.

The next several days we went to the local primary and secondary schools (elementary and high schools). There we took photos of each individual student for an adopt a student program the Knoxville communities support. We also ran an art workshop where each student painted a rock and took it home to their families.

Haiti 3The group from Knoxville brought a 30 foot projector screen and every night we put on movies in French for the kids. There were a huge number of kids and even adults that came to the square at night. We showed Madagascar, Despicable Me, and Finding Nemo. A girl from Knoxville brought a GoPro and videoed the kids at school and playing in the square every day. On the last night we were there, they made a movie out of all of the GoPro videos and displayed it on the screen. It was so cool to see the kids react to seeing themselves on the screen. Parents were crying and it was a moving night.

The next day we packed up our luggage and said goodbye. It was hard to leave the people that were so welcoming and generous to us. I had met so many amazing people and seen some indescribable things. The People of Boucan Carre don’t have much, but what they have they are willing to share. When we were walking around the town people often invited us into their humble homes and showed us around. One of the girls I went with described it as a place of raw happiness and I couldn’t agree more.

I was sad to leave that day. The week I spent away from social media, and the problems I believe to be important, was without a doubt the most memorable and humbling experience I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to go back again next year.

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4

 

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